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Why do we lift? BECAUSE I SAID SO! Blog over, conversation done. We’ll see you on the internet some other time…

Okay seriously… With this post, I’m wrapping up a series of posts on the reasons resistance training is a staple in both our group and individual programs at MSP Fitness. Far too often the conversation around the water cooler (i.e. internet forums), is less concerned with WHY people ought to lift and more focused on, “shut up and do it already!”, or something to that effect. Here are the four posts thus far:

  1. Lift to get stronger
  2. Lift to build muscle
  3. Lift for training variation
  4. Lift for connective tissue health

In today’s post, I connect the barbell to your brain! I’ll focus on how lifting increases confidence, improves mood, makes you happier, and provides a competitive outlet in: Why We LIFT: Brain Boost.

Confidence Boost

Regardless of your end goal, body composition, sport performance, lifestyle enhancement, etc. the strength benefits that come alongside lifting are guaranteed to boost your confidence. Being able to move and control an external load makes it easier to perform daily tasks. Before starting a lifting program, you might’ve needed an army of minions to move your furniture across town. Now, after a few times around the sun, you’re first on your friends’ list when they need help moving a sectional up the stairs at their apartment. As unfortunate as it was, prior to resistance training, you might’ve felt vulnerable or powerless should some nefarious character attempt to mug you. Now, having submitted to a training routine, you not only know you could put up a fight, but would most likely come out on top.

This is not to say that an ego or any form of vanity should come go hand in hand with lifting weights. In case you were confused, your deadlift max won’t make you a better human being. That being said, there is nothing selfish about gaining more confidence. You can and should feel proud of the hard work you’ve done! In fact, chasing that extra strength you didn’t have previously, pursuing aesthetics, or even chasing the feeling of resiliency is all good. Both the results stemming from, and act of, resistance training will most certainly boost your confidence levels.

Mood Rings

We all need outlets. Mama and/or Papa needs a little me time now and again am I right?!? Life is simply not Margaritaville. We cannot waste away the day “searchin’ for a lost shaker of salt”. In the face of a week’s worth of vocational and social commitments, 14947746_10153790176486403_8038613274858320041_nlifting provides a wonderful outlet. You will not only be soaking up the physical benefits mentioned in previous articles, but you can turn that frown upside down when you harness the psychological benefits that come with me-time in the gym.

We only have so much bandwidth to offer. Once we’ve been taxed to the point of mental and emotional exhaustion, is it any wonder we come home less amicable? Take some time and alter your mood with physical activity. After returning from the gym, you’ll no longer want to shove those TPS reports down your boss’s throat and you won’t regret the things you say to your partner/spouse because today, you got your squats in.

Do What Makes You Happy

The barbell won’t fulfill you, but the results you get from utilizing it, and resistance training tools like it, have been shown to improve not only mood[1], but cognitive function as well[2]. There’s nothing mystical about the barbell in particular. Any implement (kettlebell, dumbbell, stationary machine, bands, balls, etc.) that allows someone to train in a way which alters their physique and improves their strength is going to evoke an attitude adjustment[3]. We’ve showcased this thus far, but what about happiness?

We all have needs in life that need to be met. Some needs are certainly obvious for survival, but many become more unique to the individual upon further delineation. Once you have food, water, clothing, shelter (including sanitation), education, and healthcare, then one can start identifying more specific needs tied to happiness. Say you have identified a chief need in your life. If that need correlates with any of the benefits associated with lifting, than lifting will most certainly make you happy in a lasting way. Most commonly, appearance goals are assigned to this comparison, but to assume that body composition goals are the only needs of a person who lifts is foolish. Regardless of the need/goal, if you can obtain it through resistance training, than you will certainly be happier for it.

Put Your Game Face On

“Finish HIM!”

Finally, whether it’s social or internal, lifting weights is a phenomenal competitive outlet. At face value, lifting is highly objective. If you train with a certain weight for a specific number of reps one week, you have the ability to test your capacity at the same weight and reps the next week or even the next session. With sets, reps, and load all being integers this progress is easy to interpret and easy to track. At the simplest level, the anecdotal experience of a weight feeling easier than it had previously is the proof in the pudding. Even better yet, lifting can provide you with hard evidence, showcasing that you’ve definitely improved when you notice that you’ve done the same weight for more reps or the same reps with more weight. This easily tracked progress naturally gives way to self competition. How can I better myself? How can I beat my old self? While you’ll never be able to conduct a Mortal Kombat style battle between yourself and who you were five years ago, the fire inside to become better than yesterday can be fanned immensely with weight training.

And as a final note on competition, I recognize that the internal rivalry depicted above doesn’t do it for everyone. Some folks will be interested in their own progression, but more motivated by how they match up against other. Training alongside others can certainly be beneficial for days when you’re feeling a little unmotivated or under-enthused. A person or group of people surrounding you can be a great vehicle for your competitive drive as you express your fitness in resistance training.

Barbells and Brains

Since the onset of the modern physical training era, people have put up guards lifting weights. Some people’s dissent comes from places of genuine inquiry or genuine ignorance. You don’t know what you don’t know. For those of you who were in that category, we hope you are no longer! No matter which blog resonated with you; lifting to get stronger, lifting to build muscle, lifting for variation, lifting for bone and tissue health, or this current post on lifting for your brain, we trust you picked up something regarding the immense benefits of moving weight.

48bc03679620351a44031051173708d5b6c24d7f96ecfbc91ab02f17a9e62234Unfortunately, there will always be individuals who suggest or claim inherent weakness across age and gender lines. For those who might still be in that camp, let me tell you this. If your reasoning for not starting a training routine is, “I’m too old”, “I’m too weak”, or “Girls/Women/Men/Boys shouldn’t do that” you ought to think again! Humans are people of not only vast individuality, but people in progress. There might just be something for you to discover through lifting that would be unidentifiable if you stay closed minded. Likewise, don’t fear your start point! As we say at MSP, “There is always going to be someone stronger than you.” However true that may be, there will also be someone weaker who would kill to have a start point like yours. When it comes to trying out lifting, all we need to identify is a start point, a place to begin. The rest is up to you and the direction you want to take your training.

Taylor Gish is an Exclusive Coach at MSP Fitness and Lead Instructor to the Strength+Endurance Program. His individual training focus is on the sport of Olympic Weightlifting where he has been competing locally and nationally since 2013. Taylor enjoys spending time with his wife and kids, cooking, and lecturing on health and fitness as an adjunct professor at his alma mater.

So go lift! If you’ve been on the fence, or know your current lifting routine needs updating, the best thing to do is reach out to a coach at a dedicated training facility. If you need directions, find someone with a map! At MSP Fitness, we love to lift, but we also love to lift well. Our facility located in St. Louis Park, Minnesota is all about giving you options to pursue fitness and smash your goals, setting new ones along the way! We’ve been serving the West Metro, South Minneapolis, and larger Twin Cities community since 2009, offering private, semi-private, and group training options.

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